We’ve got the power!

Larne will this weekend host the 2013 Northern Ireland Powerlifting Federation’s (NIPF) Deadlift Championships, with strongman Chris McNaghten’s Big Bears Club leading the local charge.

Around 100 powerlifters from all over the province are expected to descend on the McNeill Theatre on Saturday. And Britain’s strongest man, Laurence Shahlaei, has also been confirmed as a special guest.

In the run-up to the event, Big Bears members took part in the recent Northern Ireland Bench Press Championships. Each member of the team placed in the top three of their category - a superb result for the newly-formed club. Andy Falconer, Jonathon Irvine, Alan Davidson and Robert Newman all performed well.

Club founder McNaghten was delighted with the results and said the guys did themselves, the club and the town proud. “The club has only been established for a few months and already it has hit the powerlifting circuit with a bang,” he said.

At just 24-year-old powerhouse McNaghten weighs 150 kilgrams, has 23-inch biceps and has twice won the Junior Ireland’s Strongest Man title, as well as competing in Britain’s Strongest Man.

Now he is fully focused on the NI Deadlifting Championships here in Larne where he hopes local talent will really shine through.

Also taking part in Saturday’s event is mum-of-six Naomi McLean (inset), who lives locally. She will be competing in the Senior Female category. “I can compete about five times a year, which is brilliant craic,” she said. “This sport offers amazing competitive opportunities for females. You can continue to compete even as you get older. To develop functional strength is healthy for body and mind.”

So, what are Naomi’s hopes for the deadlift competition? “I’m looking to encourage and support the other lifters, especially the ladies, enjoy myself and hopefully hit a new personal best,” said the 36-year-old. “I’m working this year as the lady lifter development officer for the Northern Ireland Powerlifting Federation, so getting a good number of ladies on the platform would be great. I only live 10 minutes from Larne, so this one is special for me. If this competition gets more people in this area involved in powerlifting, then I’ll be thrilled about that.”

Big Bears’ Robert Newman, weighing in at 130 kilos, has a personal best deadlift of 265kg and he’s aiming to complete his first 600lb+ deadlift (roughly 272.5kg) in Larne.

“After several injuries from my contact sport days, powerlifting has helped me strengthen around my joints and keep me relatively injury-free. It also keeps the hunger there to get in the gym and put the work in especially on those days where otherwise you might decide not to go,” said the 29-year-old.